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Litigation: Authors Guild, Australian Society of Authors, Quebec Writers Union

Of wide interest to readers of this list.

---------- Forwarded message ----------

From: The Authors Guild <staff@authorsguild.org>
Date: Mon, Sep 12, 2011 at 3:46 PM
Subject: Authors Guild, Australian Society of Authors, Quebec Writers
Union Sue Five U.S. Universities

This afternoon, we filed suit against HathiTrust, the University 
of Michigan and four other universities over their storage and 
use of millions of copyright-protected books. The press release 


Digital Files Provided by Google at Issue, As Plaintiffs Seek to 
Impound Unauthorized Scans of 7 Million Copyright-Protected 
Books, Pending Congressional Action

NEW YORK - The Authors Guild, the Australian Society of Authors, 
the Quebec Writers Union, and eight individual authors have filed 
a copyright infringement lawsuit in federal court against 
HathiTrust, the University of Michigan, the University of 
California, the University of Wisconsin, Indiana University, and 
Cornell University. Plaintiff authors include children's book 
author and illustrator Pat Cummings, novelists Angelo Loukakis, 
Roxana Robinson, Daniele Simpson, and Fay Weldon, poet Andre Roy, 
Columbia University professor and Shakespeare scholar James 
Shapiro, and Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award winning 
biographer T.J. Stiles.

The universities obtained from Google unauthorized scans of an 
estimated 7 million copyright-protected books, the rights to 
which are held by authors in dozens of countries. The 
universities have pooled the unauthorized files in a repository 
organized by the University of Michigan called HathiTrust.

In June, Michigan announced plans to permit unlimited downloads 
by its students and faculty members of copyright-protected works 
it deems "orphans" according to rules the school has established. 
Other universities joined in Michigan's project in August.

The first set of so-called orphans, 27 works by French, Russian, 
and American authors, are scheduled to be released to an 
estimated 250,000 students and faculty members on October 13th. 
An additional 140 books, including works in Spanish, Yiddish, 
French, and Russian, are to be released starting in November.

"This is an upsetting and outrageous attempt to dismiss authors' 
rights," said Angelo Loukakis, executive director of the 
Australian Society of Authors. "Maybe it doesn't seem like it to 
some, but writing books is an author's real-life work and 
livelihood. This group of American universities has no authority 
to decide whether, when or how authors forfeit their copyright 
protection. These aren't orphaned books, they're abducted books."

"I was stunned when I learned of this," said Daniele Simpson, 
president of UNEQ. "How are authors from Quebec, Italy or Japan 
to know that their works have been determined to be 'orphans' by 
a group in Ann Arbor, Michigan? If these colleges can make up 
their own rules, then won't every college and university, in 
every country, want to do the same?"

The complaint also questions the security of the 7 million 
unauthorized digital files. The numbers are staggering. The 
universities have, without permission, digitized and loaded onto 
HathiTrust's online servers thousands of editions, in various 
translations, of works by Simone de Beauvoir, Italo Calvino, 
Bernard Clavel, Umberto Eco, Carlos Fuentes, Guenter Grass, Peter 
Handke, Michel Houellebecq, Clarice Lispector, Mario Vargas 
Llosa, Herta Muller, Haruki Murakami, Kenzaburo Oe, Octavio Paz, 
and Jose Saramago, among countless other authors. Works from 
nearly every nation have been digitized. HathiTrust's databases 
house more than 65,000 works published in the year 2001, for 
example, including thousands of works published that year in 
China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Russia, 
Spain, and the U.K., and hundreds from Australia, Austria, 
Brazil, Canada, Egypt, Israel, Lebanon, Mexico, The Netherlands, 
The Philippines, South Korea, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, and 

"These books, because of the universities' and Google's unlawful 
actions, are now at needless, intolerable digital risk," said 
Authors Guild president Scott Turow. "Even if it weren't for this 
preposterous, ad-hoc initiative, we'd have a major problem with 
the digital repository. Authors shouldn't have to trust their 
works to a group that's making up the rules as it goes along."

Google's library scanning project is already the subject of a 
federal class-action lawsuit in New York. A status conference in 
that case is scheduled before Judge Denny Chin this Thursday, 
September 15.

Attorneys Edward Rosenthal and Jeremy Goldman of Frankfurt Kurnit 
Klein & Selz are representing plaintiffs.